Book Thoughts: Sula

Sula

There in the center of that silence was not eternity but the death of time and a loneliness so profound the word itself had no meaning.” 

After watching theJunot Diaz and Toni Morrison conversation that took place in December, which you can watch here.

(It’s long but worth it!) I was utterly fascinated by Toni Morrison. She is a name that I have heard my entire life. She was that author that I always said, “Yea, I’ll get around to reading her eventually” Yet for some reason I never did. When she and Junot Diaz began discussing Sula I just connected with everything she said, and I immediately bumped Sula to the top of my TBR pile.

Sula is a story of friendship between Sula Peace and Nel Wright. It has multiple themes such as, death, poverty, ethnicity, family, and motherhood, but the core theme is friendship mainly female friendship. The woman meet as young girls. Both girls live on the “Bottom” the poor colored section of the town of Medallion, Ohio. They share their joys and loneliness, and each becomes the other’s lifeline. Their friendship spans decades as the girls turn to women and form different lives, such as Nel becoming a wife and mother, and Sula leaving the Bottom for life in the city, however, through the years their friendship remains intact. Suddenly Sula returns to Medallion, and the women are finally reunited. However, their reunion turns bittersweet, and their friendship is tested for the first time.

Junot Diaz said something that struck a chord with me. He teaches at MIT and he asked his students to name literary friendships. Immediately his students can name at least 5 fictional friendships, however, typically these friendships are male. When they’re asked to name female friendships, his students are stuck. But there is one that most people can recall, and that is Nel and Sula’s. After I heard that, it got me thinking, and I realized he was right. I’m not saying female friendships don’t exist in literature, but try to quickly think about five off the top of your head. I hope you had better success than I did.

Sula and Nel’s friendship is not perfect. In fact, Sula is one of the most unlikable characters I have ever come across, and Nel was seriously lacking a back bone. Poor girl. However, I get their friendship. I understand their loyalty even when they’ve let each other down. I get their love even when they’ve done terrible things to each other. I get it because that is friendship. That is having a person in your heart no matter what they’ve done to you. It’s important to represent that friendships matters too. Every time I had a major fight with my best friend it hurt. Especially the big ones were you go some time without speaking. There are a million songs about breaking up with your lover, and as far as I knowI can only think of Amy Wineshouse’s “Best Friend”. If you know any more, than please send them my way.

Reading this book I was reminded of my own best friend. The one I’ve had since I was eleven. We’ve had our ups and downs over the years. We’ve had moments we were barely speaking. Our lives have changed so much over time, yet no matter how hurt or mad I was, it didn’t matter what new people I met, or the new adventures I was having. I missed her. Naturally as our ages change so do our time and our prioties, but we still make time for each other, and when we get together we can still make each other laugh like no one ever has before.

The point is friendships are powerful, and I’m glad this book focuses on that power.

Toni Morrison won a Nobel prize, so I know she doesn’t need me do PR for her, but I will anyway. Her writing is incredible -albeit dry a few times-, there were a few passages that my eyes glazed over and I had to back and re-read them. However, she knows how to get to the nitty gritty of humanity, and has the most eloquent way of saying the most simplest things.

In a way, her strangeness, her naiveté, her craving for the other half of her equation was the consequence of an idle imagination. Had she paints, or clay, or knew the discipline of the dance, or strings, had she anything to engage her tremendous curiosity and her gift for metaphor, she might have exchanged the restlessness and preoccupation with whim for an activity that provided her with all she yearned for. And like an artist with no art form, she became dangerous.

It was a fine cry-loud and long-but it had no bottom and it had no top, just circles and circles of sorrow

Yes, but my lonely is mine. Now your lonely is somebody else’s. Made by somebody else and handed to you. Ain’t that something? A a secondhand lonely.

I would have liked the story to show a bit more. For example, the girls spent some time apart, and it would have been interesting seeing their indivial years apart.

Overall a great read. I wish I would have read this book sooner, preferably in my high school years, but better late than never.

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2 thoughts on “Book Thoughts: Sula

  1. Beautiful post and lovely review full of candour and warmth♥

    I have always encountered Toni Morrison in my wanderings in and out of bookstores and university libraries, but like what you’d mentioned in your opening paragraphs here, I too have always been telling myself that I will get to reading her sometime.

    Reading your lovely review (for all reviews of genuine heart and humility are lovely, my friend) has just pushed her pretty high up on my to-read list now.

    Incidentally, a friend and colleague of mine was also recommending one of her books (“The Bluest Eye”) to me this past week. Seems like I will be getting my hands on a Toni Morrison read sooner than I had imagined.
    Thank you for sharing this and do take care, too. 🙂

    • Aw thank you I appreciate the kind words:)
      I also plan on reading more from her, and one of my professors keeps talking about “Beloved” so that might be my next one. I honestly don’t know what’s taken me so long to pick her up, but better late than never.
      I’ve also heard great things about “The Bluest Eye” so I hope you like it, and tell me what you thought of it!
      Thanks for stopping by,and you take care too:)

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